School Meals and Snacks

There are several programs that all provide free or low cost meals and snacks to children attending public school, nonprofit private schools, residential child care institutions, after school activities and camps.

These programs are funded by federal funds, but are run by agencies at the state level. They include the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, the Summer Food Service Program (and Seamless Summer), and the Special Milk Program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Program Benefits Am I eligible? How do I apply?

These programs provide eligible children with nutritious meals, milk and snacks for little or no cost. Depending on your household income, your children may qualify for free meals, free milk and snacks, or they may qualify for reduced price lunches (which cost 40 cents or less) or reduced price snacks or breakfast for 30 cents or less.

Those children who do not receive free or discounted meals may still qualify for free milk. Learn more about the Milk program.

Your children may already qualify if your family currently receives other benefits including:

  • SNAP/Food Stamps
  • TANF
  • Head Start or Early Head start

In other cases, your child’s eligibility for food assistance depends on your income and the size of your household. You or your child(ren) do not have to be a U.S. citizen to qualify for free or reduced price meals.
Number of people in your household:  
If your annual household income is less than $ you may be eligible to receive free meals/snacks.

If your annual household income is less than $ you may be eligible to receive discounted meals/snacks.

Your state may have additional eligibility information. Contact your local agency for more information.

Your school should provide you with written information about the free meal/snack program at least 1 month before school starts for the year. They will also provide you with an application.

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